As reported in the media, Mr George Yeo has pretty much acknowleged that last year’s poor showing (relatively speaking) in the general elections, indicates that many people had lost faith in the government.
It is good to see that with the burden of the Ministerial post off his shoulders and the lack of a Parlimanetary seat, George Yeo is able to speak his mind and admit the reality on the ground. I wonder if the extent of the populuation’s loss of faith has filtered through to the leadership.
I believe that the only reason why PAP did not suffer further losses in the last GE was because there were still a sizeable number that believed that change was possible from within the Party. It was clear from the Presidential Elections that many PAP voters had voted for Dr Tan Cheng Bock instead of Dr Tony Tan (the preferred PAP candidate). This was undeniably the soft option for voters wishing to express their discontent. They got their PAP government at the General Elections but they had the possibility of a non-endorsed and yet ex-PAP member (and old-school grassroots savy PAP MP) as an option for President. In one sense, a vote against Tony Tan by those that voted for the PAP at the GE was a clear message of the displeasure felt even by that segment of the population that had supported the PAP.
The extent of the displeasure is not limited to the 40% that voted for the opposition in the GE. I believe that the Presidential Elections last year constituted a form of an opinion poll on the loss of faith felt by Singaporeans. Yes, the 1,372,847 Singaporeans that did not vote for Tony Tan indicated in various shades that the current government needs to get its act together. That was effectively 64.8% of the electorate.
I appreciate George Yeo’s suggestion that we have to set aside political differences and work together as a nation. I believe that these are the tentative signs of us maturing as a nation. There is still too much bitterness in the conversations carried out across party lines. A political history of repression of alternative voices has led to too much suspicion and lack of a willingness to listen (applicable to the ruling party and the opposition supporters). We need to recognise that it is perfectly fine to have strong political views and it is healthy to engage in virulent debate. In the midst of all that we must not forget that we are friends, family, Singaporeans.